Mildura Weekly : Friday October 7 Vol 10 No 48
12 NEWS MILDURA WEEKLY FRIDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2016 CITY COUNCIL ELECTION 2016 MEET THE CANDIDATES LONG-time Mildura Rural City Councillor Mark Eckel says one of his major priorities if re-elected will be to fight for a fairer deal for Sunraysia’s developers. Cr Eckel said bureaucratic ob- stacles put in the path of key for- ward-thinking and successful de- velopers over the years had driven them away to other areas, to the detriment of the district. “This is not an overnight situa- tion. It’s historical. When develop- ers come to us with their projects, we should be asking, ‘how can we make this happen?’, instead of putting obstacles in their path.” Cr Eckel highlighted John Keam as an example of this phe- nomenon. Mr Keam, who operated Keam Constructions during the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s in Sunray- sia, was the region’s largest and most successful developer for much of that period, pioneering a host of modern building tech- niques at a national level. Cr Eckel said Mr Keam was driv- en from this district by the red tape put in front of him. “John, as an example, being driven out of our market has cost this district so much, as he was forced to develop elsewhere, and those other areas benefitted from his vision, his expertise,” he said. “And I see it still happening now. There’s at least one major Mil- dura-based developer who is now doing all of his work out of town, and he may indeed take all of his operations out of Mildura. “Now, I’ve been standing up in Council for years saying that in regards to planning, we should be in charge of our own destiny to a certain extent, and there are things happening up here from a develop- ment perspective and in the horti- cultural sector that the builders in Melbourne and other regional cen- tres don’t have to deal with, we are unique.” Mr Keam, who still lives in the region, but who has conducted his development business entirely out of town from the mid-1980s, said it was easier to work outside the district. “It just got too difficult here, and in the end it became so diffi- cult I had to put in applications in other peoples’ names,” he said. “In the end you just get sick of the process being made difficult for you, told why you can’t do some- thing rather than how you can.” Cr Eckel said Mr Keam’s senti- ments were being echoed by the lo- cal planning industry today, “more often than not, major developers with the creativity of Mr Keam who are pivotal to the district’s survival.” “At the end of the day, if you have no vision, no plan, you’ve got no future,” he said. “People say the tourism dollar goes around. Well, just think how the developer dollar goes around. “How many people are em- ployed by developers? How many products and materials are pur- chased in this town by developers?” While fostering further devel- opment in the region will be one of Cr Eckel’s major priorities if re- elected, he said slashing transac- tion costs and the need for outside city-centric consultants would be other key areas he would focus on. “Social issues are high on my agenda, assisting local agencies in dealing with community substance abuse and increased mental health issues,” he said. “According to a recent survey 80 percent of Australians believe our society is becoming a lone- lier place. Council must increase the opportunity for conversation around all of this. As a White Rib- bon Ambassador, I will continue my work in relationship to family violence within the service sector and maintain his vigilance for the National Intervention Order legis- lation.” Developers deserve better, says Eckel • BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE: Mildura Rural City Councillor Mark Eckel with developer John Keam. ENSURING Sunraysia’s major infrastructure projects come to fruition and fighting to ensure the region’s children have the foundation they need for a positive future are among priorities for sitting councillor Sharyon Peart, who is seeking another term on Council. Cr Peart said she has a proven record for standing up for the community as a council- lor, business owner, board member and com- munity worker, stressing that a large part of a councillor’s role is to represent the interests of residents. “As a councillor, it is my role to unite the needs and ambitions of the community. To work hard to deliver positive economic, so- cial and environmental outcomes that deliver jobs,” she said. “Local government is about local people standing up for local families, advocating to both State and Federal Parliament, building relationships, working with government of the day for positive outcomes. “As a Council, we must hear, accept and re- spond to community concerns. We must con- tinue to push hard to drive downward pressure on rates, whilst making sure that services deliv- ered are efficient, effective and sustainable into the future. “This is our community and I believe that we need to continue to work hard together in order to create the future we all want - team- work is paramount.” Cr Peart listed the second stage of the river- front redevelopment, the Mildura South sport- ing complex, motorsport complex and Ouyen Lake project as her infrastructure priorities, while bringing the Hands Up Mallee project to fruition and delivering central kindergarten enrolment are among her major community priorities. • Continued Page 24 Councillors must stand up for community: Peart MILDURA (03) 5021 1968 | BERRI (08) 8582 2211 | ROBINVALE (03) 5026 3003 | www.chan-naylor.com.au If this is your experience with your current accountant - then give Chan & Naylor a go. 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Friday September 30 Vol 10 No 47
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